I didn't mean to create a thread about treating or not treating for mites, but I do appreciate that it's a part of what I outlined as a goal.
Ian, I feel ya. I do. I'm not suggesting that I wouldn't treat if I needed to. And have no illusions about it perhaps not being possible. But I've never really tried not treating in earnest, and when I read that others are doing it successfully to whatever degree that amounts to in relation to their goals - then I feel that I should give it a shot at some point, and what better time to do it than now? What does anyone really know about beekeeping that they haven't themselves? You know what I mean?
To me, treatment free means not doing things specifically to combat mites - it's all related to the mite issue. At the same time, I also recognize that creating a nuc-based operation could have an effect on mite counts, so that is potentially a 'treatment' of sorts. Also, I am hoping to stack the odds in my favor by making more colonies on less gear.
Mike Palmer and Dean - Absolutely. There's no question that it all hangs on the doing. At the moment, we're looking at getting our first snow here tonight. The bees are in for the winter. I've moved to my winter activities, which amount to research and building. In the basement workshop, I'm building enough gear so that I come out of hibernation with the gear for 45 hives - 30 of them double nucs as you have shown in your presentations.
• I've been working with another local beekeeper here, trying to learn whatever I can from his experience, and to have someone who doesn't wear out on the subject of bees to talk to. I did a cut-out with him this summer, and plan to do more next season. I've visiting still others to glean what I can from what they know as well.
• I built 10 swarm traps last winter, and secured places for them this season. I got one swarm, and had lot's of activity at others. I have secured places for them again next spring.
• I have tried to contact anyone around me that has worked on raising queens in the area to learn from them.
• I have been in contact with provincial authorities regarding the closed border regulations, and succeeded in getting a permit to bring in queens this past summer, which is how I got the Buckfasts.
• I have been in touch with science departments of Canadian universities to try and get information on what they know about resistant bees in our climates, and to learn what they can tell me about the progress of any projects aimed at building mite and disease-resistant stocks in Canada.
• I have been in contact with breeders in different parts of Canada regarding their stock in case I decide to apply for 2013 permits.
• I have secured sufficient yard space close to home. One of those yards is quite isolated from other beekeepers, and could be a mating yard site in the future. The city I live in (where most of my bees are now) has a pesticide ban, and has had one in place for three years.
• I will begin to work on queen rearing this season, which I need to learn and am excited about.
• After three and a half years of continuous bee-obsession on my part, my partner Angie, has gone from annoyed, to tolerant, to a sudden and very strong interest in bee-products-based-handmade-soaps-and cosmetics. This could be the greatest development yet.
• Local pollination is something I'm looking at, as the province is a huge fruit grower (apples, blueberries, cranberries, etc) and has had a consistent shortage of bees. There are also an increasing number of organic operations here, which is nice. People are getting as much as $150 a hive, and most of the farms are within an hour and a half of my house. This is part of why I'm aiming at higher numbers. Also, none of the farm areas are very large, which means that bees placed there for pollination still have a pretty wide variety of other types of forage around. So I feel like pollination locally is not going to be especially hard on the bees... (thoughts?)
• Beyond that, there is a government incentive program offering any beekeeper who has at least 50 hives in pollination in a season, a grant of as much as 50% of the cost of any expansion they want to do.
So that's a potential shot in the arm if I get to 50 and still want to expand to reach that 100.
I am interested in creating a viable sideline. I'd like to reach $15,000 annual income after expenses. I have not created a business plan or anything yet, as I'm still really just focused on learning about the bees, and which aspects of working with bees I enjoy most. I have made all of my gear out of reclaimed lumber and have spent very little money. Everything I'm building is designed to be cost-effective and as efficient as possible.
I am not over-extending myself economically at all, and won't unless I have a viable business plan.
At this point, it's just doing and learning; thinking and planning.
Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 11-28-2012 at 11:20 AM.
good work adam!
journaling the growth of a (mite) treatment free apiary started in 2010. 20+/- hives
Im not against developing bees that are more tolerant to diseases,
we as beekeepers can bring these traits into our operation to help minimize the need to relieve disease pressures
disease is always going to be part of looking after animals, no way around it. Our ability to manage those disease losses is what allows us to manage bees
here is a project I am supporting ,
If your interested in natural selection, this project will be right up your alley. The amount of effort these people put into this project is outstanding. And I am supporting their efforts by bringing their stock into a portion of my operation. For a beekeeper like myself to achieve anywhere near what they have accomplished is impossible.
Now the other question is how do they measure success in what the project has provided them,.? Time will tell,
The other question is how does mother nature manage the disease pressures naturally? The answer is looking like she wants to manage mites exactly the opposite way we want to keep our bees
Ian, Saskatraz is one of the operations I've been in touch with for potential import next season. The problem there for me is that the information on their progress is outdated, and communication is very slow. I have mentioned this here before. I'm not knocking them, I'm just saying that for a guy on the other side of the country trying to make decisions on where to get bees on a limited permit - one needs clear, up-to-date information, and prompt communication.
Do you have info on their progress since 2009? How are they doing in terms of reaching their goals?
Is that a project you would like to experiment in your own operation?
The project is a death sentence for most all the bees put into that breeding program, and the equipment is lost.
The same with these mite natural selection projects, countless number of hives go into these projects, and most all of them die off, taking the surviours as nature allows. Im not talking tens of hives, im talking thousands of hives and breeding projects.
Is that a project a beekeeper is willing to take up? Probably would bankrupt the best of them, so instead we take breeding stock from these projects.
Last edited by Ian; 11-28-2012 at 12:12 PM. Reason: spelling
>>o you have info on their progress since 2009? How are they doing in terms of reaching their goals?
Thats the thing about these projects,
Im not in touch with the fellows running the project, just the broker selling the queens
From what i understand, the results from the project is not leading the way we would like to have them go, perhaps the way nature wants to manage the mites is by making a smaller hive and swarming more often, not exactly what beekeepers want.
But I posted the project address to show that there are efforts working in a treatment free setting.
Adam, it may seem that as soon as someone mentions treatment free, the conversation gets hung up on that fact. And rightly so. Disease control has to be covered before any thing else can be done.
Why would you manage your hives treatment free in terms to mites, but not any of the other diseases ?
Last edited by Ian; 11-28-2012 at 12:14 PM.
>>• Beyond that, there is a government incentive program offering any beekeeper who has at least 50 hives in pollination in a season, a grant of as much as 50% of the cost of any expansion they want to do.
Good as gold!
The twist is that the government is opening the border to pollination from out-of-province. That will likely result soon in a completely open border. That will make the market more competitive and probably bring down what people pay for pollination. It will also bring in a ton of bees. I'm not sure how long the government will have an incentive program, once the fruit industry's pollination needs are satisfied.
Ian, you ask:
"Why would you manage your hives treatment free in terms to mites, but not any of the other diseases ? "
Well, mites aren't a disease, and they haven't been with us very long. I am happy to consider each disease individually.
So, in the spring, you have 15 colonies and 30 nucs. Manage the two groups separately. The production colonies should give enough bee resources to keep your numbers up. Might even make a bit of honey...but any honey harvested is gravy. The nucleus colonies are given a third story at the beginning of May...comb if you have it.
Allow the nucs but build well, and begin harvesting brood and bees from them. Timing? Don't know NS, certainly before they begin swarm preparations. I start here about mid-May, removing brood for cell building. If I were you, I would buy queens at first. so all your brood and bees from the nucs, goes into making more nucs.
Harvest brood in rotation...harvesting what the nucs give you, one or two or three combs, replacing with comb if you have it, foundation if you don't. Foundation will slow the process. After a couple harvests, you knock the nuc back to two stories, then one, then knocking the remaining bees and brood back to a beginning nuc in strength. If the queen is still prolific, let her stay. Re-queen if she's showing her age. Let that remaining nuc build up as you would a new one...into the second story, and winter all your nucs in two stories.
Using comb as replacements, I harvested 900 combs of brood from 50 double story nucs in 2011...not a good honey year. 900 combs of brood is enough to make 400+ nucleus colonies. From your 30 nucs, using foundation, I would expect you could make at least 5:1 new nucs to wintered nucs. That would leave you with about 150 nucs going into winter.
You shouldn't have more than about 10% winter loss in your nucs, once you are experienced enough. That leaves you 135 in the spring.
You sell 100 four or five frame nucs for what? $125-130? You have four or five combs left over to use in the process. In a few years, with enough combs to use in your nuc making, you can approach 10:1 in your nuc making. You can figure it out from here...how much income you might glean from your bees at that point.
But, early in this, when you're at 5:1, your income should be around that $15,000 you are shooting for. Income from your nuc bees that don't have to be treated, are a back-up for your production colonies, can be used in your breeding program, and require very little in initial investment.
That's how I would write a business plan if I were in your position. You folks chasing the elusive honey crop about the countryside, you should consider this plan. Good honey crops are few and far between. Honey is expensive to produce, in labor and equipment. The money is in the bees.
Thanks for that outstanding bit of info Michael,
I've gathered from previous writings that you also pack up nuc-harvested frames of brood and boost up normal production hives with them, which makes them better honey producers.
Is that true?
If so, do you leave bees from the nuc on the brood to prevent chilling while driving to yards?
Since you don't do spring splits, can we ask what swarming prevention you practice?
That's a real nice business plan Mike and one that could be applied by a lot more readers of Beesource than the plan that we use. A few observations. #1 Mike probably makes it sound a bit easier than it is, first, it's a lot of work and secondly he is a talented beekeeper with a lifetime of experience in honing his skill. #2 If everyone operated as such nucs probably would no longer bring $125 but that would depend on how many people out there are truly dedicated to doing the work it requires. so I will conclude that there probably isn't much danger in that but you would have to develop a customer base. #3. A re-reading of Adams opening post tells us that, like many on here, they are starting out with the desire to be treatment free. The blueprint that Mr. Palmer has layed out is probably not going to be compatible with that goal. One constant in whatever plan you choose is that to get any kind of payback from your beekeeping endeavor requires a lot of dedication and resiliency. Things are never quite as simple as a neat business plan might make them appear.
"People will generally accept facts as truth only if the facts agree with what they already believe."- Andy Rooney
have you thought about nosema? Especially when talking about pollinating blueberries in Nova Scotia,
I know a guy who use to live close to me here, packed up and is now managing a pollination outfit in New Brunswick.
Bees going into blue berry pollination look good, bees leaving blue berry pollination look lousy. There is a nutritional deficit on that plant,
for what its worth,
I've heard that about blueberries, which is why I mentioned the fact that there are a lot of smaller farms here. A friend of mine who pollinates here was telling me about how he's gone to check on the bees in blueberries, and their all in the wildflowers around the property. Most of the farms here aren't a large enough area. There are some large farms, but I really don't imagine that I'll be competing for those big-business contracts. There are plenty of small fruit farmers around that can use help from a little guy like me.
But there are other crops too, and I will certainly consider be health in any plans I make.
I try to be serious lol
I hear they pay somewhat reasonable pollination fees,
you should pay attention to the guys here who pollinate almonds.
Theme from their conversations are nutrition, disease control, nutrition, moving hives, feeding, nutrition,
yes, small farmers like little beekeepers. But I doubt they will pay you big fees for pollination contracts. More likely they will give you a spot to keep bees on, and will be grateful for your pollination
How do you suggest I build up from where I am, given that I have next to no comb resources?
To recap, I have:
• 6 overwintering nucs (5 new Buckfast)
• 6 production colonies
(I have one weak one as well, but I don't think it'll make it. That will leave some comb though)
If I add a box 3rd week of May, and I've only got foundation, what's my schedule going to look like if I want to be back to the one box by July 15? I figure that's when one want's to be making OW nucs up for the following winter if I don't have enough drawn comb. With comb, I'll move to an August 1 date. This year, we had a dearth and I didn't have comb. My July 25 nucs were light and I had to feed. They built comb pretty well, but were just shy of drawing out all the foundation.
Last edited by Adam Foster Collins; 11-29-2012 at 01:03 PM.